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So what can you expect on Wednesday for your fiver? I have previously introduced the tournament and the Celtic squad in an earlier article. The model everyone wants to aspire to will be in town. The youth academy is based at the famous La Masia set up by Johan Cruyff. One of the first graduates was a certain Pep Guardiola who is quoted as saying:
“The player who has passed through La Masia has something different to the rest, it’s a plus that only comes from having competed in a Barcelona shirt from the time you were a child.”
The system came to ultimate fruition in 2010 when six of the Spain World Cup starting eleven were graduates and eight in total in the squad. Furthermore the three Ballon d’Or finalists the same year were all trained at La Masia being Iniesta, Xavi and of course Lionel Messi.
The youths are coached by Oscar who as with all coaches at La Masia is a former professional footballer having been an attacking midfielder with Barcelona through the 1990’s.
Almost as interesting to note is who we will not see on Wednesday as well as whom we will see. With Islam Feruz looking like he is off and causing much angst with the support it is worth noting Barcelona have recently lost Jon Miquel Toral to Arsenal in similar circumstances. A sixteen year old left sided attacking midfielder he had formed a partnership with Sergi Samper which Arsenal saw enough in to make offers to them both (well the last Barcelona reserve they took a punt on turned into not a bad player and a decent return). Samper turned down Arsenal to take his chances at Camp Nou however Toral has a more English style (also an English mum). Nothing to do with the money on offer being hugely higher than that which Barcelona pay or the promise of an equally huge first team debut bonus scheduled for 2012-13. Barcelona will receive £500,000. Spain does not allow 16 year olds to sign professional contracts and when they do sign a youth contract at 16 they get £10,000 per year. 19 year old Oriol Romeu chose a similar path in a £4m deal with Chelsea. Another player described as English type Barcelona kept a buy back option of £10m in the first season and £15m in the second. Barcelona considered his attitude and physical presence were greater attributes than his passing. So much for the Premiership being the greatest league in the world when physical attributes are more highly sought of than passing the ball.
So who will we see?
With the whole world looking for a centre forward we may see Deulofeu a seventeen-year-old having already made his senior debut earlier this month in a friendly. Dongue a sixteen year old from the Eto’o Foundation in Cameroon playing three years above his age
Midfielders to look out for are Espinosa and Samper mentioned above and if were looking at a left sided centre half Sergio.
Alternatively from Braga the fantastically named Luis Gustavo Ledes Evangelista dos Santos
The Barcelona squad will be based around the following:
NOMBRE POSICIÓN FECHA DE NACIMIENTO
Carlos Castarnado Muñoz Portero 26-12-92
Jesús Unzué Elorza Portero 25-12-93
Albert Dalmau Martinez Defensa 16-03-92
Ivan Balliu Campeny Defensa 01-01-92
Eduard Campabadal Claros Defensa 26-01-93
Vivaldi Leonid Bakoyock Defensa 28-09-94
Sergio Ayala López Defensa 19-03-93
Oriol Rosell Argerich Defensa 07-07-92
Rafael Alcántara do Nascimiento Centrocampista 12-02-93
Javier Espinosa González Centrocampista 19-09-92
Luis Gustavo Ledes Evangelista dos Santos Centrocampista 28-09-92
Jose Palau Mira Centrocampista 24-02-92
Pol Calvet Planellas Centrocampista 19-04-94
Jordi Masó Ribas Centrocampista 19-09-92
Armand Ella Ken Delantero 23-02-93
Gerard Deulofeu Lázaro Delantero 13-03-94
Ernesto Cornejo Sánchez Delantero 25-02-93
Gael Junior Etock Delantero 05-07-93
This isn’t just a homage to Barcelona, our Under 19’s form the backbone of the national squad. Marcus Fraser played in Spain for the first team last year, Paul George in the AZ Alkmaar friendly and Filip Twarzik has had a couple of first team friendlies. The first game was lost 1.0 in Marseilles. By all accounts an early goal which despite second half pressure couldn’t be recovered. The team that day was:
CELTIC (4-4-2): Feely; Fraser, Jones, Toshney, Chalmers; F Twardzik, McGregor, Irvine, P Twardzik (Herron 17, Alabi 70); Watt, Williams (Atajic 86)
Subs not used: Thomson, Spence, Kidd, George
Brief highlights can be seen here:
If we want to see a first team with home grown talent, a mix of youth and experience it can’t start quickly enough and Wednesday may well be that start.